Maps and Detours

Growing up I always felt like we were all supposed to have our lives figured out by the time we got to college, or at the latest after our freshman year. In fact, I always thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life probably from 6th grade on. My plan was to go to school for architecture, graduate, become an architect, get married, and start a family. That was pretty much the checklist. As I grew older, however, I discovered that, for me, college was the time in my life when I actually started to figure out what I wanted to do with my life; and much of it was changing from the original plan. I started to take notice of what real life in my career path was. I started to compare that with what I wanted in my life when it’s all said and done. I’m not so sure I liked the results.

People always say “give it time.” Like time is all we need to make sure everything in our lives will work out; like with time, we can discover everything we’ll ever need to know. I think now I understand this phrase on a level deeper than I ever thought possible. Without time, there is no thought; and without thought, there’s no way we can make good decisions. We have to think things through before we act; or we will if we’re smart. It amazes me what God can make comforting with time. He can comfort the loss of a loved one, He can transform a heart. In my life, God gave me comfort with His plan for my life. About a year ago, I started the adventure of lisening. I started to listen to God more than speak to him; and I started to understand His plan. I started to feel God calling my life towards a different direction. Towards a direction of service and sacrifice. Towards a direction that would require me to do things that I was not gifted in. I was confused. I always thought God wanted me to serve him with my success; and I always thought that success was made mostly through my decisions. I was wrong.

God had been calling me towards ministry in him; and I had no idea where or what. I thought about things constantly; trying to map out how God would work in my life like I was writing my life into a screenplay. I was so naive. I had it all planned out: I would transfer to a Christian school, get a degree in an area of ministry, and God would take over from there. The only thing I didn’t realize was that God doesn’t have an accredited university; and His plan doesn’t involve security. It involves risk and action. It involves possible rejection, and possible greatness. I just need to trust that God will carry me where I need to go, and good will come from following His path.

This most recent semester, I started to feel that call again; except this time school was going well, and I was actually liking plan number one. I kept pushing God’s plan aside, yet praying for it to happen, all at once. I kept listening, but never started acting. During this semester, I started to feel a call while on a trip to California, visiting a church plant. This church plant was not a large church plant, and it was probably the most casual church I’ve ever been to. It was in a big, open room, with couches spread all around. It was a space for friendship; a space that was non-threatening; a space that could be used to maximum potential.

While in this space, I felt God’s plan for my life. I felt as if God wanted me to do something of the sort in my community; something to benefit where I’m at in life. This is when I really started thinking. I read a book while all this was going on about a writer editing his life into a movie. The writer had to learn all about story in order to make a good movie, and in doing so, he had to start living a story in order to make a good life. I felt this opportunity was a chance for me to start my story. I started to think about all the people in the Laramie community that were away from God, and all the people who’d found God and where these people spend their time. I started to think about all the college experiences I’ve had in life with christians, and those experiences with non-christians, and I really couldn’t remember spending much time intermingling the two groups. I started to imagine what it would look like to open a space for christians and non-christians alike to spend time; a place that didn’t bible-thump, but a place that just loved people for who they were; a place where christian examples could be present to show people what true love is and how to experience it. I wanted a place that escaped the stereotypes of the church: the ways people view the church as judgemental and unforgiving; a place filled with hypocrites.

I want to create a space where people can get together, regardless of their differences, and love each other. I want to create a space where people can get to know each other and create relationships with one another. Through this, I feel, much can be acheived. Us as Christians need to suggest more than proclaim; we need to suggest God to people because we love those people; and in order for those suggestions to hold, people need to love those suggesting. People need to know that we as Christians only do what we do through love.

I’ve been praying a lot lately that God would strengthen me and give me the words to say to tell people of God’s plans for my life. I’ve been praying that He guide me along the way to make these plans a reality; that He’d help me get the story started. Two weeks ago I never would have felt a way for Him to do these things would be through an internet blog. God works in mysterious ways. Even when I started writing today I was going to write about our uncertainties in life, and ended up writing about God’s plans. The truth is, I’m probably  going to need a lot of help from God, and the people around me, in order for this to come to fruition, but hey, God works in mysterious ways

Rollercoasters and Stepping Stones

Being honest, I have a lot of flaws. One of the areas I need to work a lot on is letting people know the real me. I focus way too much on trying to make people laugh, or just making people like me in general, and not enough time letting people into the real me. That’s actually one big reason I started writing. It’s a lot easier for me to say how I feel about things when I write them down. I’ve never been considered a great communicator; I’ll be the first to admit that.

It’s amazing to me what God can do in someone’s life if they just ask. I’ve been a Christian for as long as I can remember, but I really feel my relationship with God never really started developing until the last few years. I’ve always tried to please God in what I do, and I’ve always tried to make him my number one priority in life. When I look back, however, I don’t remember hearing God’s call on my life growing up, so I always kind of just did what I wanted when it came down to the big decisions in life. I’ve always been a person that had a hard time taking that first step; the first leap of faith. I’ve always been kind of chicken, really. Life has taught me in these short 22 years however, that usually when you take a risk and go after your fears, you end up liking the result. I think a good analogy for this is a roller coaster. Growing up, I was always afraid to go on the big roller coasters; the ones with loops. Going to amusement parks, I always said before I arrived that I was going to go on the biggest rollercoaster, and then never would, and would leave with regret. You never know what you can accomplish in life until a friend is by your side, encouraging you to go for it. My friends dragged me on a roller coaster, and I loved it. I may have thrown up afterwards, but I loved it.

Now that my relationship in Christ is growing, he is becoming that encouraging friend; getting me to do things that I’ve always been afraid to do. I think of one of my favorite verses:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart: do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.    -Proverbs 3:5-6

This verse brings me such peace and comfort. It lets me know that God has my back at all times; and he’s looking out for me. Trust me, I’m still a work in progress; that first step is still a hard one for me to take, but I have faith that God will get me there, and in time I’ll be where He wants me to be. We’re expected to go off course. Trust in God, and He’ll bring you back. It’d be easier to predict the weather in a year than it would be to predict God’s path for our lives.

In times of trauma, remember that God has a plan. Remember whatever happens, God has a plan for all of it. God can accomplish some of the most amazing things in someone’s life in the saddest times; when we’re not expecting it.

I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.                        -Isaiah 43:2-3

Hi, my name is ______

Here is a pet peeve to kick this off:

I don’t understand when people ask me my name and don’t tell me theirs. To me, that’s saying “Hey, I’m gonna need to get your attention later, but I don’t want you to be able to get mine.” What if they were about to get hit by a car? I’d have no way to warn them. All I could do is shout at them, which I never understood. In movies, people always yell someone’s name when they’re about to get blindsided. It seems to me that this wouldn’t do anything, because usually when people yell my name I turn towards them, I don’t jump backwards. Have you ever instinctively jumped backwards when someone shouted at you? Doesn’t happen. The most likely result would probably be the turn and look, resulting in a bigger surprise when the car came.